gmUS News & World Reportsays:

“General Motors posted a $9.6 billion net loss in the fourth quarter, a period in which its sales plunged and it needed a federal bailout to avoid filing for bankruptcy.”

The Detroit Free Press adds, “GM is seeking additional money, as much as $16.6 billion, from the U.S. government. Of that amount, GM has said it needs $2 billion in March and $2.6 billion in April.”

Sure, automakers will be happy to take a big pile of cash off our hands. But just because they’re on the public’s dole doesn’t mean they’re going to start acting in the public interest. That’s crazy talk.

See, for instance, Time magazine:

GM and Chrysler, given the need for federal assistance, have kept a low profile in the fight over the California [fuel economy] rules, and are still hoping that the Obama Administration won’t grant California the waiver. In a show of Detroit’s political savvy, the Big Three have also outsourced much of the current fight over the California rules to the National Automobile Dealers Association, long-time critics of legislation.

Environmentalists are insisting that one of the conditions of continuing federal assistance to the automakers is that they withdraw their support for the federal lawsuit filed by the Alliance for Automobile Manufactures in California…

Is dropping the lawsuit really so much to ask, guys?

Maybe I’m just touchy, but I don’t usually give handouts to people who are suing me. And if we’re just dying to give money away, perhaps we can sprinkle the next $16 billion on the nation’s cash-strapped transit agencies where it will do some long-term good.

Bonus: Definitely take a look at the accompanying photo gallery in Time. It’s drawn from a project called The Ruins of Detroit by French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.